Interview with Neil McQuoid the editor & founder of Racer Ready

This week Neil McQuoid, the editor & founder of Racer Ready tells us why he started the winter sports magazine and how he likes to keep it topical.

About the publication:

Who reads it and how many of them are there?
Racer Ready is read by athletes, coaches, administrators and fans of competitive winter sports. Our readers are from the UK as well as around the world. As we are a subscription only magazine, we send the magazine out to most of the ski clubs in the UK and have about 1500 readers. But we are always looking for more!

What subjects do you cover? What stories are you most interested in covering?
Winter sport is a vast area and the synergy amongst all the sports is helping to raise the profile of each of the sports. We cover alpine skiing, ski cross, speed skiing, Boardercross, Parallel GS for snowboarding, Ski Bike Racing, telemark racing, Bobsleigh and at all levels from the Olympics down to grassroots. There are a number of other magazines that deal with the freestyle market, so do not do much on them.

Most interesting stories are those that create excitement for the reader and inspire people to raise their own game.

What makes you different from the other outlets in your sector?
We are the only ski magazine in the UK that focuses entirely on the competitive side of the sport and not the holiday side. We do get requests from other magazines for articles on the racing when the guys and girls do well so this gives another revenue stream!

As the alpine ski racing market in the UK is very different from almost all the other countries in the world (The summer racing is almost as large as the winter racing market in terms of numbers), we produce four magazines a year, two in the summer and two in the winter so that both sides are catered for.

How do you decide the content, front covers and headlines? Content is decided through talking with an adhoc group that help with what is topical and interesting. We try and keep the event reports on the web and use the magazine for features, interviews and trade news, equipment news and news on the athletes.

Do you produce a features list? Why? Why not?
Due to the nature of the beast, features are topical and can change regularly. If someone has a good idea then we are more than willing to listen and try to accomadate.

About you and freelance journalists:

Do you pay for contributions from freelance journalists?
It really depends on whether the article can bring in extra advertising. We are only a small magazine and in a niche market so all costs have to be covered. Where we can we will pay but it is rare that we will send a freelance to an event to do an exclusive for the magazine.

Do you like freelance journalists to get in touch with you directly to pitch ideas? And if so, how? (What should the pitch include and any specifics about how they should send that information to you)
Yes we do like freelancers to get in touch as it is always a chance to help people along the way. By email in the first instance is the best way.

Name the three most important attributes that make a freelance journalist stand out for you and would make you use them again?
1. The original pitch has to be relevant and interesting to our core readers.
2. Delivery has to be on time and needing the minimum amount of changing. Understanding our readers and what they are after is vital.
3. The final article needs to be easy to read and with no spelling / grammatical mistakes (spell check is vital!)

If a writer does not accept changes made or argues constantly and causes hassle then they are unlikely to be used again.

If you can, tell us about the best approach you’ve seen from a freelance…and the worst…
We have had one journalist who approached the magazine a few years ago, wanting to go to an event. Before he had even pitched his idea in detail he was asking how much he would be paid, how his expenses (flight, minimum 4* hotel and more) would be met and when he would be paid. I subsequently found out that he had pitched the idea to three other people and was hoping we would all take the idea and he would make a killing. He has been told not to contact us again!

The one that made me laugh the most was when a guy started taking pics at an event our photographer was at, right next to him. He then started giving the pictures away and then asked if he could write as well for us……

About PRs:

Do you work closely with PRs (e.g. for supplements, round tables, events) or do you keep them at arm’s length?
We work with a number of PR’s and welcome news that they send.

If you could make one change to the way PRs deal with you, what would it be?
When you say no interest in the theme they are pushing, they do not keep pushing it.

How should a PR approach you about their client?
By email. With pictures and text.

What information/input from PRs is most useful to you? Relevant stories, ideas but thinking out of the box as well.

When is the best time for PRs to contact you & what is your deadline for contributions?
Any time! News is a 24 / 7, 365 day business now!

About you:

Describe a typical day at work: What are you editorial duties/responsibilities at the outlet (e.g. commissioning, subbing, features, interviewing)?
Each day is different – this is what makes my job so interesting! Weekends are spent at events taking pics, watching the racing and the evening writing up. During the week it is more on the commercial side of the business that takes precedent.

What interests you most about your job?
Meeting interesting people, doing something I love and seeing the project grow constantly.

Where have you worked previously, and how did you end up in your current position?
I used to be a ski racer, I had a little success but when I found that I could not read about the sport after I had given up / retired, I realised that with my then current job, going nowhere, that a freelance journalism job covering the skiing would be a great way to earn a living. After a year following the world cup tour and a growing amount of debt I realised this would not happen. I was driving back from Europe and had the “brain wave” to start a magazine covering competitive winter sport. I approached all the skiing magazines and none were interested in supporting it and neither were the governing body of ski racing in the UK. So I set out on this journey with no backing and in November 2001 we had nine subscribers for the first issue and after 34 issues we now have almost 350.

My own work history includes working for blue chip companies, small marketing agencies, ski industry firms, temping and a major cancer charity as their events development officer.

Do you tweet? Why, why not?
Yes I do. I find it a great way of informing people as to new articles that are up on the website and also when the next magazine is going out.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
No does not mean never, it just means not at this moment.

What media do you seek out 1st thing in the morning?
Telegraph business section….. as it does not mean I will be upset as to sports results the day before!

If you could time travel what time would you go to?
Back to the eighties so that I could relive my own racing days! If I was armed with the knowledge I have now, who knows how much further I could have gone with my skiing!

[lnk||_self|Racer Ready]
[img|jpg|Racer Ready magazine cover]

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